More and more I’m beginning to think society has seriously decayed

I’m not a culture warrior.  I’m not sitting in my chair fretting about how gay marriage is going to undermine society.  I don’t support the rallies or the organizations that are trying to inject Judeo-Christian values in to our government.  I do however see the impact of an ever increasing culture of greed, selfishness, deceit and dishonesty.  I’ve been consuming a steady diet of commentators point out very plainly how corrupt our finance industry is.  Right now I don’t trust the markets at all, that game is rigged hard.

I read something of of a curve ball today.  Apparently there is quite the culture of corruption the American agency charged with regulating the offshore oil industry. 

The Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General released a report this morning indicating as much. At one Gulf Coast office of MMS, agency officials attended sporting events on the dime of oil companies, stored porn on company computers, used cocaine and crystal meth, and falsified inspection reports. (The above links go directly to the relevant pages in the report, thanks to our ever-handy document viewer.)

Read whole article here

When I think about this and then I think about the environmental and economic devastation wrought by the the current oil leak I get mad.  The decoupling of our society from traditional morals and ethics has been disastrous.  Dishonesty and corruption siphon off the productivity of our economy and destroy our inheritance of resources. 

I’m not arguing that increasing the influence of the church would fix things.  The church is just as much as this as anything else in society.  We are part of the corruption.  We have taken the values of consumerism and individualism and spiritualized them.  When the hollow shell of all this unsustainable living and ponzi finance collapses it will take  much of churchianity with it. 

We need the golden rule…treat others in the same way you want to be treated.  At the very least we need to stop screwing each other over and lying to ourselves.  Karl Denninger at Market Ticker often makes the point that the math doesn’t lie.  The math is America is broke, and Europe is even more broke.  We have very elaborate systems that convince us that we can get something for nothing but in our great circle of life the only thing free in this world is the energy from the sun.  The adjustment to this reality is going to be very difficult.  We have built up programs, institutions, facilities and systems on the assumption that we will have ever expanding resources of energy, finance and labour.  While math doesn’t lie, neither does geology

The first crunch will likely be economic.  Europe is teetering, and while it is has been a fascinated ride watching our politicians levitate the economy on borrowed money, it will eventually run out.  When it does things are going to get tough.  All borrowing does is pull forward consumer demand.  Everything I borrow now I have to payback later, and because I’m paying it back later I’m not buying anything later.  So the people who produced something for me to buy won’t get any business from me in the future.  What happens when I can’t borrow anymore?  I can’t buy anything now or later, or I declare bankruptcy and someone else eats the loss and can’t buy anything either. 

The next crunch will be in energy.  Increasingly it takes more and more energy to pull energy from the ground.  That means less energy to go around.  No one knows for sure, but by around 2012-2014 no amount of “drill baby drill” will be able to pull out enough energy to meet demand.  At that point the world has to relocalize as our society cleanses itself of SUVs, California strawberries in winter and short term mission trips.  If the economic crunch hasn’t happened yet, it will happen at this point.

Mixed in with that will be the impact of climate change.  Over the last little while we’ve enjoyed a lull in solar irradiance.  That means the heat we get from the sun has dipped for a little bit and muted the impact of all those green house gasses.  Now it looks like the sun has shifted back in to higher gear and El Nino has belched up a mess load of stored heat in the pacific.  It looks like 2010 is going to be the hottest year on record.  So much for the climate skeptics “global cooling theory.”  Our traditional climate patterns will be upset.  Some places will benefit while more will not. 

We live in interesting times.

  1. #1 by Bene D on May 27, 2010 - 3:26 am

    Welcome to reality, or more realistically, your 30’s.

    Marriage and children do a lot to open our eyes to what we are doing messing up the present and what we need to focus on for the future.

    When has greed and self-interest not been a motivating factor in civilization and cultures?

  2. #2 by klem on May 28, 2010 - 8:02 am

    I agree, we get so much of our knowledge from the media today and we used to rely on the media to tell us realtivly unbiased stories but now they stick to the party line. It’s sad.

    For example, the media never talks about the cap&trade carbon market. The global carbon market will eventually become the single largest market ever created; it will dwarf the oil market, the stock market, even the enormous global bond market. Eventually control of carbon won’t be simply for electricity, it will cover all types of carbon usage from how much food you buy, to clothes, books, how much you fly or drive, or how much wood you consume. Eventually all people will be trading carbon with a carbon credit card, we’ll buy the credits when the price is low and hold off when it’s high. And governments and investors like Al Gore will prosper. The ‘save the planet’ thing is just a story for the masses. Make no mistake, money is the allure.

    The media never ask why Gore does NOT have any solar panels or wind generators on any of his mansions? Because he simply buys the carbon credits he needs to be carbon neutral, he does not need to spend thousands of dollars needlessly. For a few hundred bucks a year in carbon credits he can achieve what $500,000 in solar panels would do. That’s why you don’t see any of these things near his properties, and he has a smaller carbon footprint than his tofu eating solar powered neighbors and for 1 /1000th the cost. That’s why I say that once we have Cap&Trade, there will be no need for anyone (or any company) to invest in costly green technology. They will simply spend a few hundred dollars yearly and buy the credits, done. These clean energy companies will be wiped out by the carbon market, putting their people on the unemployment lines. Gore is no fool; spending money on solar panels and windmills is for suckers. Ask yourself, which would you do, spend $50,000 for a windmill or $40 for a carbon certificate?..I thought so.

  3. #3 by Leighton Tebay on May 28, 2010 - 8:21 am


    I think you are a little confused about “cap and trade” and “carbon offsets.” What Al Gore buys is an offset. An offset is paying someone or some other organization to do something that will reduce CO2 emissions at the same measure that your produce. Some forms of GHG reductions are much cheaper than putting solar panels on someone’s house, which is why they are cheaper than solar panels.

    Cap and Trade would mean industries would have a limit on their emissions. Those companies that reduce their emissions can sell their extra credits to companies that don’t. The only way they will have credits to sell is if they invest in green technology and energy efficiency.

    I personally don’t like Cap and Trade because it is too complicated and too easy to manipulate. I’d much rather see a flat out carbon tax collected by state/provincial governments. The revenue from that tax would be matched by corresponding income tax cuts. Send a clear predictable price signal so that businesses and other development agencies can find innovative solutions. As much as it doesn’t sound like it, a carbon tax is much more business friendly than cap and trade because it spreads the burden to everyone, not just industry. In government I prefer simple to complex.

    It would be important that the tax not be federal, you don’t want carbon heavy regions to send their carbon tax dollars to fund clean energy projects in other regions of the country.

    I can’t speak to the motives of the people pushing a carbon market. Cap and Trade did work very successfully to reduce acid rain in North America in the 80s. I think it would be presumptuous to assume that everyone who wants cap and trade is it in for the money, because this approach to reducing pollution worked in the past.

  4. #4 by klem on May 31, 2010 - 8:07 am

    After your comment I have discovered that Carbon credits are traded within a Cap&Trade system. Carbon offsets are not involved when trading of emission reduction credits occurs within regulated sectors so offsets are investments in emissions reductions outside of regulated industries, like investing in tree planting. Al Gore buys carbon offsets because the USA has no cap&trade system in place. I’m not sure I see a material difference, but from now on I’ll include that distinction. Thanks.

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